Memorial Drive, Adelaide, 19th February 1972
It’s been a long long lonely lonely time since I saw the mighty Led Zeppelin in concert, so my recollections are vague to say the least. So I ‘ll try and recall the experience the best I can remember. Me and my mates were in our 3rd year of secondary school when we heard the news that Zepp were on their way downunder. There was a buzz of excitement around the school. Tickets went on sale at Allans music shop in the city, so me and my buddies went in and lined up for what seemed a lifetime to see our favourite rock band. A$ 4.20 was the price of a ticket, a couple of weeks pocket (allowance for you American folk) money for me.
The school holidays passed slowly, we went back to school about the end of January. Zeppelin were to play on Friday the eighteenth of February. That afternoon me and about 4 or 5 other guys rocked into the city. We went to the local gaming parlours during the day having a great time. Then we heard BOOM BOOM BOOM BOOM an I mean that was loud. What we heard was the sound check of the drums in the city. The Memorial Drive stadium was a fair distance away. We all looked and thought F$*K!!! were going to that! We were really itching to go by this point. We had a bite then proceeded to the Drive, as I remember it would have been about 6.00pm. The weather was on the dodgy side all day, raining, windy, bit of sun, so it wasn’t a bit of a surprise to find out the concert was cancelled due to equipment and stage damage from the rain.
The local radio station which was promoting the show had a vehicle in the car park letting punters know the show was off till the next night, we were really f$*ked off to say the least. The expectation was like waiting for an orgasm. Some of us had tickets to see Creedence on the next night, toss up for some, Creedence or Zeppelin, needless to say that Zepp won hands down. Just unfortunate they had to miss Creedence. The choice was justified 10X believe me. We all rocked up the next night, lined up, anticipation running at an all time high. As we filed into the arena we past the stage, and looked up in awe at the PA, and the cables powering it. Whoa!!!! We rocked in sat on the tennis court lawns, listening to the records through the PA. Joints were passed around, we were chatting getting high, how else do you expect to see Zepp?
The sun was setting, the waft of pot in the air, cloudless cool night, stars out, it was set. Darkness fell, lights out. The announcement, something like ”Led Zeppelin” boomed from the PA (which is not captured on the bootleg). Then this unbelievable wall of sound engulfed the whole stadium at an extremely high volume, Immigrant Song was upon us. The place erupted. We were gazing upon amazement at each other, this was it, the real thing in concert. ”Ohh My Ears Man” indeed. I remember around the time of Black Dog or Stairway, there was some idiot in the crowd causing some classic Plantations.
Plant really took the piss out of him. Dazed was brutal in its delivery, the acoustic set was a relief from the sonic onslaught of the electric stuff, but then again the acoustic set had a powerful presence. The band powered through the classics SIBLY ,D&C, BD, WLL, MD, WIAWSNB, R&R, STH, IS, HB, which had the crowd shell shocked. In an odd sort of way when the pummelling stops, it becomes a relief in between songs. The band had a really good time, and they really pleased the crowd, because Zeppelin loved to play live, it was a real party atmosphere.
It was an awesome experience which hasn’t been equalled since, the times have faded but the memory still excites me.
Another memory from this concert has been sent in by Greg Evans, on behalf of his brother in law Chris Rice:
These are the recollections of my brother-in-law Chris Rice:
I remember when the concert first announced around November 1971 because it was during exams. Had a lean Christmas saving for it, $4 was a lot of dough for broke student. Was recovering from a heavy 1971, (saw Deep Purple with Free in early 1971 (my first concert), and Black Sabbath in the middle of 1971, both at theA pollo), and had really started to buy a lot of albums, (possibly as many as 30 that year at $5-$6 a pop). Doesn’t sound a lot of cash but it was back then.
I do remember wondering about Memorial Drive as a venue because others I had been to had been indoors, The Apollo (Stadium) for overseas acts, Town Hall’s or dreaded disco’s for local acts, Daddy Cool, Thorpie, La De Das, etc. Anyway, my music type friends and I at the time, (I was 17), were all into the Heavy riff type British Blues, (in fact 2 of them were British and wouldn’t listen to anything that wasn’t), so yes we would definitely go and tickets would be bought from Allans by one of the guys mothers who worked at David Jones or Myers, ( I forget), and who knew someone who worked at Allans so we wouldn’t have to wait in line. I think you could also get tickets from 5AD. Tickets in our hot sweaty hands, (it was summer), and we would once again conquer the world.
Then came Saturday and I was playing tennis on the back courts at the Memorial Drive when all of a sudden there was this booming noise echoing off the hill behind Adelaide Oval. We all sort of thought what the hell, it sounded like a 44 Gallon drum rolling down the road. Ahh, brain engages, it was the roadies tuning up Bonham’s kit. My doubles partner and I lost our set as quick as we could and hopped the fence. A few other like souls joined us and we sat in the western stand, in our tennis whites, (sports nerds hey, but with long hair), and were treated to the full tune up by the roadies and then sound check by Zep themselves. Then followed the ultimate version of Whole Lotta Love, echoing off the empty northern and southern stands with an audience of 8 or 9 guys in tennis whites.
That night I drove all of us, parked down on the river behind Adelaide Uni, got in early as the lawns was unreserved so first in best spot. We camped about 10 yards in front of the mixer desk area so I guess we were 40 yards from the stage. Memorial Drive had 2 centre courts facing North/South. This lawned area was enclosed on the North side, (Jewellery section), by the main stand, (comfy seats and tin roofed, probably holds 1500), on the Southern side by the “I want Jewellery but can’t afford it stand”, (reasonable seats but no roof, probably held about 1500), and on the Western ” I think about jewellery sometimes” side a temporary stand that was just hard boards on risers, probably only held about 600.The stage was at the Eastern end. So in the middle on the lawns, ( approx 50 yards wide and 100 yards deep), was the “what’s Jewellery?, are they the support act” section of the crowd, ( that’s us).
Guess it fitted about 4000 comfortably in this area. We had another section of crowd this night, the “I can’t even spell Jewellery” section that lined the fence outside the southern stand, a portion of which, called the ” but I’ll steal some if you want”, broke, actually no, demolished, the aforementioned fence, allowing many hundreds of ” I can’t even spell Jewellery” types in who immediately offended the southern stand patrons, ( who remember would like jewellery), so the officers of the Law, resplendent in Jewellery came in their multitudes to restore proper order, (but not the fence). Back to the concert itself. Don’t remember there being a support act, so their either wasn’t or they were very forgettable.
I do remember the sound being very clear, (Purple and Sabbath had been quite murky however that’s probably just Apollo acoustics although I remember Free particularly Koss sounding superb) Can’t remember what songs they did, (other than the obvious ones Whole Lotta Love, Stairway, Immigrant, Moby Dick, Since I’ve Been Loving You, Black Dog and they opened with Immigrant song), however I do know it was from Zep 1 through 4. The Drive was the best venue for Heavy bands, Zep, Sab, Heep, Doobies, Purple, Bad Co., but I reckon Whole Lotta Love sounded better in the afternoon when the stands were empty.
I do remember being surprised at Plant’s vocal power and do remember appreciating the way Bonham’s kit was miked. Do remember a white Telecaster being used for a couple of numbers and do remember Marshalls and the Lovely Les Paul. Don’t remember Jimmy being bearded however the cover of the CD shows one. Don’t remember it being overly loud however I am comparing this to Purple and Sabbath indoors so guess it’s relative. Do remember the vibe on the Lawn area which was very “cool and communal”. The “heavy scenes man” under the Southern stand was, as mentioned last email , 50 yards off to my right and I didn’t even notice it, (until we were leaving and saw the demolished fence).
I’m a bit vague on this next bit but I reckon I remember the papers next morning saying there was as many people outside on the road and car park as there were inside and I think for concerts the Drive holds about 8000 so was a big night. I think the figure of 200 police/security guards was also mentioned. Also think it may have been this concert that resulted in the 11pm curfew for concerts at the Drive, (because the sound travelled all the way down to Henley Beach so 20% of Adelaide couldn’t sleep until concert finished which I reckon was after midnight.
I still don’t remember it being overly loud. Really was a good show at a time when I think we were just beginning to be spoilt with international acts.